Most of us look at used shopping bags, empty toilet paper rolls, old to-go bags and discarded pizza boxes as trash. However, Yuken Teruya sees these common, every day objects as potentially beautiful and insightful art. Teruya cuts out delicate trees from these discarded objects, manipulates them and gives them another meaning that touches upon our culture and society’s disposable nature.
Notice. Photo courtesy of Yuken Teruya.
Teruya’s piece, Notice, is part of a forest series that draws attention to our depleted natural resources. Constructed from discarded shopping bags, he cuts out one tree per bag. In this series, Teruya uses bags from McDonald’s, as seen in the picture, to the distinctive teal Tiffany’s jewelry bag. The piece is lit from above and Teruya recommends viewing the piece in natural lighting.
Rain Forest. Photo courtesy of Yuken Teruya.
Rain Forest is a series of old toilet paper rolls strung vertically to appear as a forest. Delicately cut out from the roll, the branches can support their own weight without folding. “There is a moment when the hanging cut-out parts start holding their branches and leaves on their own strength. It is as if I’m helping the paper awakens its ability to be an individual tree,” Teruya says.
The Japanese artist meticulously cuts out trees to create a miniature world out of post-consumer goods. Although these are beautiful pieces to admire, Teruya’s work highlights consumerism, fleeting natural resources and the issues associated with globalism, through his material choice and philosophical approach towards his art. I am drawn to his work for multiple reasons; first, he creates pieces that discuss these pressing issues, and second, he embodies what his art reflects by constructing pieces that don’t add or remove any material from the original object.
The young artist recently finished the group exhibition “Second Lives” at the Arts & Design Museum , New York. Regardless of where you live, expect to see this renowned eco-artist as his work is shown in museums and galleries around the world.